warship; model

c. 1800

Rigged model of 16-gun schooner, 1800 (Prisoner-of-War model).

This is a model of a warship which was made by French prisoners during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Over a quarter of a million enemy combatants, mostly French seamen, found their way into British captivity. As sailing ships needed to be relatively self-sufficient for long periods at sea, many seamen were skilled craftsmen. Some used their skills during the long years of incarceration, making highly attractive ship models from scavenged materials. These would be sold to the British captors, often for substantial sums. Prisoner-of-war ship models usually depicted the larger ships of the fleet, but models of smaller vessels have also survived. This ship is a late eighteenth century schooner pierced for 16 guns. Such ships never took part in grand sea battles, but were used for less glamorous duties such as escorting convoys, capturing enemy merchantmen, or carrying despatches for the fleet. This model is made from wood to a scale of 1:180, and is of much higher quality than most examples made from bone or ivory. It is highly detailed, with flush decks and a carved figurehead. The two masts carry square topsails.

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Science Museum: Making the Modern World Gallery

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Water Transport
Object Number:
F. Ihlee

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